Amit Sahni Vs The Commissioner of Police & Ors.

Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 3282 of 2020

Judges Name: Hon’ble Judges Sanjay Kishan Kaul J, Aniruddha Bose J, Krishna Murari J

Order dated: 07.10.2020

Facts of the case:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was enacted by the Legislature, which has its supporters and opponents. The Legislature performed its task. A section of the society, aggrieved by this legislative amendment, has filed petitions before this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, assailing the constitutionality and legality of this amendment, which is pending consideration. There is no stay of the legislation for the purpose of record.
  • There have been protests against this legislation in Delhi and in different parts of the country. The Supreme Court noted in its order dated 17.02.2020 that despite the law facing a constitutional challenge before this Court, that by itself will not take away the right to protest of the persons who feel aggrieved by the legislation. However, it was noted that the question was where and how the protest can be carried on, without public ways being affected.
  • The Protestors had adopted a method of protest which resulted in the closure of the Kalindi Kunj- Shaheen Bagh stretch, including the Okhla underpass from 15.12.2019.

Supreme Court held:

  • The Supreme court held that it has no hesitation in concluding that such kind of occupation of public ways, whether at the site in question or anywhere else for protests is not acceptable and the administration ought to take action to keep the areas clear of encroachments or obstructions.
  • The court further held that Constitutional scheme comes with the right to protest and express dissent, but with an obligation towards certain duties. Article 19, one of the cornerstones of the Constitution of India, confers upon its citizens two treasured rights, i.e., the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) and the right to assemble peacefully without arms under Article 19(1)(b). These rights, in cohesion, enable every citizen to assemble peacefully and protest against the actions or inactions of the State. The same must be respected and encouraged by the State, for the strength of a democracy such as ours lies in the same. These rights are subject to reasonable restrictions, which, inter alia, pertain to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India and public order, and to the regulation by the concerned police authorities in this regard.
  • It further held that it has no doubt, it is the responsibility of the respondent authorities to take suitable action, but then such suitable action should produce results. In what manner the administration should act is their responsibility and they should not hide behind the court orders or seek support therefrom for carrying out their administrative functions.

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